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Advances in Data Backup Technologies
ByÂ RitchieÂ Fiddes, Sales Director,Â Backup Technology
What drives advances inÂ dataÂ backup technologies? The demand for better and faster backup technology,Â ofÂ course! As theÂ volumesÂ ofÂ missionÂ critical informationÂ withÂ small, medium and large enterprises swell, they trigger off a demand for larger capacity backup media; greater backup and restore speeds; greater demand for security, accessibility and high availability. They also begin to grappleÂ withÂ issues like categorizationÂ ofÂ data, de-duplication ofÂ dataÂ andÂ withÂ the crucial problemÂ ofÂ finding the funds to backup and store thisÂ data.
At the coreÂ ofÂ this exercise is “data”. PlannedÂ dataÂ repositories will make accessibility easy. It will facilitate risk management, legal discovery and complianceÂ withÂ the innumerable regulations and legislation that are being implemented aroundÂ dataÂ availability.
The typeÂ ofÂ dataÂ being stored will determine the typeÂ ofÂ media that is required to store theÂ dataÂ and the storage capacityÂ ofÂ the media. So, what are the typesÂ ofÂ dataÂ that need to be backed up and stored? HistoricalÂ data that does not have to be accessed on a daily basis can be stored in tapes and tape libraries.Â DataÂ that needs to be accessed at least someÂ ofÂ the time can be stored in backup servers. TransactionÂ dataÂ that is the lifelineÂ ofÂ the business must be stored in fail-over clusters or mirror servers that will kick into action the moment the main server develops an operational glitch. So, let us first look at advances inÂ dataÂ backup technology that is triggered off by each typeÂ ofÂ data.
Tape Storage is being positioned to explode the tier 3Â dataÂ or historical dataÂ such as fixed content, compliance and archive market. Advances in dataÂ backup technologies in Tapes include creationÂ ofÂ tapesÂ withÂ longer media life, improved drive reliability, higher duty cycles and much faster dataÂ rates.
The capacitiesÂ ofÂ the tapes have tremendously increased and have even overtaken disk drives. StroageTek’s T10000 and IBMs TS1120 mainframe cartridges alongÂ withÂ the popular LTO cartridges provide for the mid-range approach or exceed one terabyte native capacities.
The speedÂ ofÂ dataÂ transfer to tapes via tape drives have also peaked. SuperDLT drives that can transfer up to 60–80 megabytes per second uncompressed. T10000 drives can transfer up to 120 mbpsÂ of uncompressedÂ dataÂ to 500 GB capacity tapes.
A numberÂ ofÂ dataÂ compression and optimization and system integration features are being built into tapes and tape drive technologies. Compression technologies are moving towards fitting moreÂ dataÂ into tapeÂ withÂ dataÂ de-duplication or intelligent compression or communality factoring. Partitioning and charge back features are being used to optimize on tapes and to provide for scalability for consolidation and high availability. Scalar i500 from Advanced Digital Information Corporation; IBM TS3310; TLS SeriesÂ ofÂ Qualstar Corp and CSM200Â ofÂ Sony Electronics and so on are someÂ ofÂ the tape drives that offer one or moreÂ ofÂ these features.
DataÂ backup on disks is regarded as low cost and high performance storage solutions for currentÂ dataÂ that does not have to be accessed on a daily basis. The amountÂ ofÂ dataÂ that is being relegated to disks and the retention periodÂ ofÂ secondaryÂ dataÂ (before it is offloaded to tapes) disks is increasing.Â DataÂ compression technologies are also improving the amount ofÂ dataÂ that is being stored in disks. CAS systems and VTL disk arrays are now capableÂ ofÂ holding a year’s worthÂ ofÂ data.
Power, cooling and reliabilityÂ ofÂ largeÂ dataÂ backup disk installations are also in focus. Disk arraysÂ withÂ hundredsÂ ofÂ disks are being created. For instance, systems have been created to migrateÂ dataÂ between disks and to ensure that all disks are used at the same time and power consumed is reduced to improve mean time between failures. High capacity, high performance disk based backup and recovery appliance is another instance ofÂ a fast backup technology. These advances inÂ dataÂ backup technology provides for near instantaneous backup and restoreÂ ofÂ up to 9.6 terabytes ofÂ data. It provides for both iSCSI and Fiber Channel connectivity from a single unit and can operate both as a disk and a virtual tape.
Advances inÂ dataÂ backup technology have also made it possible to automate replicationÂ ofÂ transactionÂ dataÂ and reduction in the amountÂ of physical handlingÂ ofÂ dataÂ backup media. TransactionÂ dataÂ can now be replicated across a numberÂ ofÂ geographically dispersed servers simultaneously. Synchronous and AsynchronousÂ dataÂ backup technologies have been harnessed to seamlessly create the necessary environment for easy and continuous backup. Snapshots and block level backupsÂ of modifiedÂ dataÂ are also used to reduce the amountÂ ofÂ time and power required to update the backup in the mirror servers and other backup servers. Software that automatically resumes failed backups are also being coded to assist organizations automatically complete backups that have failed due to failed links or other problems.
The ongoing challenge in this typeÂ ofÂ backup is the bandwidth. While there are a numberÂ ofÂ advances being made in this area, de-duplication and selective backup technologies are being fine tuned to lower bandwidth needs.
A numberÂ ofÂ dataÂ security tools are also being integrated intoÂ dataÂ backup technologies. Advances inÂ dataÂ backup technologies in this arena include backup software like Symantec Corp.’s NetBackup which offers an encryption option at a software level; CryptoStor from NeoScale Systems Inc, which allows for encryption through the dedicated drive and so on.
Another advance inÂ dataÂ backup technology is the conceptÂ ofÂ cloud backup that is gaining importance. Cloud based infrastructures in different shapes and forms are being installed for the enterprise long term use. These can be private clouds or public clouds. The shared backup infrastructure bringsÂ withÂ it economiesÂ ofÂ scale and unprecedentedÂ dataÂ replication and storage options toÂ smallÂ and medium sized enterprises that are hard pressed for funds to meet backup expenses. These services are agile, scalable and on demand services that provide both the software and the hardware infrastructure that is required for backup at a very nominal cost or a subscription.
It is clear that the Backup technology scenario is changing rapidly. Interestingly, even the economic downturn did not slow down the growing demand for better and more advancedÂ dataÂ backup technology! So, if you do not want to make historyÂ withÂ those who failed to backup, you need to get down to seriously thinking about your options and taking advantageÂ of the growing options that are being offeredÂ withÂ advances inÂ dataÂ backup technology.
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